After Austerity Bill Passes, Tsipras Demands Debt Relief from Troika

FILE - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Beijing, May 14, 2017. Photo: PM Press Office/Andrea Bonetti via Eurokinissi/

ATHENS – With the Parliament his coalition narrowly controls hammering Greeks with more austerity they vowed to overturn, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the country’s European creditors now must deliver debt relief or he’ll renege on them too.

More pension cuts and taxes on low-income families were imposed to get release of more monies from a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($95.88 billion), from the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM).

But Tsipras, who has fallen to 10 percent approval ratings after breaking his promise to reverse pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and privatizations, said he expects that debt relief will now be on the table even though the creditors said it isn’t as they ready for a May 22 meeting of Eurozone finance chiefs.

“Greece fulfilled the agreed to provisions to the fullest. The ball is now in the lenders’ court. We are expecting, and we deserve, from the Eurogroup meeting on Monday, a decision for a resolution of the Greek debt, one that corresponds with the sacrifices of the Greek people,” Tsipras said.

But major opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis – who supported austerity while Administrative Reform Minister in a previous government but now says he opposes it – said Tsipras has turned Greece into a debt colony and effectively signed a fourth bailout memorandum because the new measures will take effect in 2019, a year after rescue packages totaling 326 billion euros ($363.44 billion) runs out

He added that Greece is “living a nightmare which is the result of Mr. Tsipras’ and Mr. Kammenos’ decisions. Greece would have been a normal Eurozone country today if its path had not been interrupted,” referring as well to Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is leader of Tsipras’ partner, the pro-austerity, far-right, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL), the otherwise ideological rival of SYRIZA.

He said the coalition hypocritically approved measures they campaigned against. “This way, the cycle of the biggest fraud this country has ever lived in its recent political history will close,” he added.

The government has submitted a “memorandum to the power of four”, Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas told Parliament.

Koutsoumbas said the measures included in the bill will support the profits of monopolies, aggravate the exploitation of employees and strengthen the concentration of capital, the Athens News Agency reported.

The two consecutive bailouts brought by the government were enough to “shed its left-wing mask” which was “cultivated with sensationalist actions, with the prime minister visiting historical venues,” he said.